Back in action on 16th May the same crew had to force-land at Vitry in L8863 after being hit by ground fire. The pilot, Sgt. Alfred Thomas, got the aircraft down, despite a bullet passing through his neck and out through his jaw. Sadly although treated in hospital he died from his wounds two days later. Sgt. St.James-Smith was posted to 600 Squadron in September, where he qualified as a Battle of Britain airman, but rejoined 18 Squadron in late 1940.
The following year on 13th April 1941, Blenheim IV L9247 WV-L had taken off from RAF Oulton in Norfolk at 10:51 hrs. The aircraft was last seen at 12:30 hrs off the Dutch coast. Believed to have been shot down during this anti-shipping sortie. The bodies of F/O. Ronald Tapp and Fl/Sgt. James Anderton were washed up on the north German coast and are buried at Sage War Cemetery, west of Bremen. Fl/Sgt. St.James-Smith was sadly not recovered.
Sgt. Alfred William Swinburne Thomas. Houchin British Cemetery, France. Plot 4. Row B. Grave 3. Born in Plymouth , joining the RAF straight from school in 1928. Son of Walter Swinburne Thomas and Edith Thomas, husband of ‘Bobbie’ - Mary Edith Thomas née Robins, of Wigston Fields, Leicestershire, England. Served with 204 and 36 Squadrons in the Middle and Far East. Originally trained as an air gunner he was selected for pilot training and gained his wings in 1936, posted to 18 Squadron he flew Hinds and Harts prior to conversion on the Blenheim in 1938.
No others from this operation, other losses connected with this page:
F/O. Ronald Frederick Tapp. Sage War Cemetery. Grave 7.E.7. Son of William Frank and Rose Tapp, of Worthing, Sussex, husband of Audrey Doris Tapp, of Worthing, Sussex, England.
Fl/Sgt. James Anderton. Sage War Cemetery. Grave 7.C.4. Son of James and Alice Anderton, husband of Evelyn Anderton, of Hornsea, Yorkshire, England.
Fl/Sgt. Ronald Godfrey St. James-Smith. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 37. No further details, are you able to assist?
Researched by Michel Beckers for Aircrew Remembered - September 2015. Photographs from the collection of Michel Beckers.